Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Place We Live by Robert Adams

I'm excited to have a long review on Robert Adams' The Place We Live (Steidl/YUAM) in the current issue of The Brooklyn Rail. You can read it here.

Be sure to check out the accompanying website to Adams' traveling retrospective here.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ad Infinitum By Kris Vervaeke


My review of Ad Infinitum by Kris Vervaeke (Self, 2013) is now available on photo-eye. You can get the book here.

All images © Kris Vervaeke
All images © Kris Vervaeke
All images © Kris Vervaeke
All images © Kris Vervaeke
All images © Kris Vervaeke

Away from Home by Kürsat Bayhan


My review of Away from Home (Self, 2013) by Kürsat Bayhan is now available on photo-eye. You can get the book here.


All images © Kürsat Bayhan

All images © Kürsat Bayhan

All images © Kürsat Bayhan

All images © Kürsat Bayhan

Personal Matters by Motohiko Hasui


My review of Motohiko Hasui's Personal Matters (Bemojake, 2013) is available on Paper-Journal. You can get the book here and here.

 All images © Motohiko Hasui and Bemojake
 All images © Motohiko Hasui and Bemojake

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Conjuring Paradise by Betsy Karel


My review of Betsy Karel's Conjuring Paradise (Radius, 2013) is now available on photo-eye. You can read the review here and get the book here.

All images © Betsy Karel and Radius Books
 All images © Betsy Karel and Radius Books
All images © Betsy Karel and Radius Books
All images © Betsy Karel and Radius Books

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Erik Schubert


My review of Erik Schubert's How to Win Friends and Influence People (Lavalette, 2013) in now available on Paper-Journal. You can read it here.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gyroscope Prints

I'm very excited to be included in Gyroscope Print's postcard print subscription program. Subscribe now and get a print from my series Hollow Earth. There is also a nice write up of my work on their site here. Stay tuned to their site all week for some of my favorite photographer's work.

Here is a sample of some of the past postcards.

Scott Alario, from Our Fable
Santa Katkute

The Sochi Project: An Atlas Of War And Tourism In The Caucasus by Rob Hornstra and Arnold Van Bruggen

My review of The Sochi Project: An Atlas Of War And Tourism In The Caucasus by Rob Hornstra and Arnold Van Bruggen (Aperture, 2013) is now available in the Feb issue of The Brooklyn Rail.

You can read it here and get the book here. Learn more about the Sochi project here.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Between the Shell by Paul Salveson


My review of Paul Salveson's Between the Shell (MACK, 2013) is now available on photo-eye. You can get the book here.
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Each generation must come to terms with its stuff. The refuse, litter and products that adorn our homes, call for our attention, make our lives easier, or simply amuse us and via for our money. They surround us and infiltrate our lives in strange ways we often don’t consider. Paul Salveson’s new book Between the Shell explores the mundane, weird and oddly exotic things that fill our homes. Concocting strange still-lifes and isolating the plastic wrapped oddities of a typical suburban home, Salveson has created a perplexing and amusing portrait of our modern material world.

Vacillating between evidentiary shots of food, synthetically encased stuff and absurdist assemblages of suburban junk, Salveson responds with a child-like sense of wonder to the world around him. Between the Shell is the kind of work Peter Fraser and Fischl & Weiss might create if they collaborated while trapped in a suburban wood-paneled basement. Salveson’s work combines a forensic-like attention to the surface and details of each object with a curious reimagining of the objects’ relation to their environment and intended purpose. Mundane objects like cheese puffs, plush carpets and dough are transformed into foreign objects that are simultaneously fascinating, hilarious and revolting. Foodstuff is twisted and contorted into new shapes. Carpets become alien geometric surfaces. A Jacuzzi light morphs into a menacing portal. A children’s wooden bead maze weaves through the frame and dances in front of a shelf covered with baskets and seashells – the lines and shapes merging and breaking apart.

All images © Paul Salveson and MACK, 2013

In some ways, the work is reminiscent of what oddly 3D modeled images might look like translated into real-life and photographed. Simply following the user’s command, programs, like the largely user-generated Second Life, allow for untenable juxtapositions that defy gravity, logic and real world context. Likewise, Salveson imaginatively reworks everyday objects and places then in strange new locations. In one image, a box is pristinely wrapped in a splotched purplish bath towel. In another, a bone shaped wedge of meat, or dough, bisects a diamond-shaped formation of perfectly baked bread rolls. In both images, the purpose is beside the point. Salveson’s himself notes the solitary nature of his work when he says they “unfolding like a private performance in an empty house.” While Salveson’s images have an internal logic we are not entirely privy to, it doesn’t mean they don’t delight and confuse in equal measure

All images © Paul Salveson and MACK, 2013
All images © Paul Salveson and MACK, 2013

Brick-like and printed on thin cardboard, the design and look of the book are also striking and more closely resembles a children’s board book than a traditional photobook. This feels entirely appropriate given the whimsical nature of the work and recalls recent board books like Eirik Johnson’s Borderland and Takeshi Homma’s Tokyo Suburbia. The clean spare design also works wonderfully. The full-bleed images achieve a confrontational, yet cheeky, quality that might be lost on a more conventional layout.

All images © Paul Salveson and MACK, 2013

It seems hopelessly anachronistic to insist that artists’ continually make it ‘new.’ Yet, this is what all artists must do. To have any significance and longevity, they must speak to the conditions of their time with the materials of their time. Whether it means revising something old and forgotten or embracing the next thing, it is unavoidable. With so many young artists reenacting well-trod photographic tropes and styles from the past, its refreshing to see work that is at once so purely traditional and photographic, yet also so seemingly new, ugly and strange. We may not like what we see, but we can’t deny that Salveson forces us to look at the world and all our stuff in new ways.

All images © Paul Salveson and MACK, 2013

Please Note: This review originally appeared on photo-eye on January 9th, 2014. You can get the book here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Field Work by Martin Kollar

 

My review of Martin Kollar's Field Trip (MACK, 2013), co-published with fototazo. You can get the book here and here.
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Beyond the safety of the laboratory, studio or classroom, field trips help test theories and assumptions in the real world. They are educational excursions. Coming back with new evidence, they challenge assumptions or simply affirm them. At their best, the provoke us and force us to reground our ideas and beliefs in the world. Collecting photographs taken in Israel between 2009 and 2011, Martin Kollar’s Field Trip offers his own fragmentary field-guide, missives and observations from the politically fraught and culturally complex region. Alien and perplexing, Kollar’s Israel is a land marked with checkpoints, ambiguous structures and oddly unsettling experiments on animals and humans alike. It both questions and affirms our expectations leaving the viewer unsettled and anxious.

All images © Martin Kollar and MACK, 2013
All images © Martin Kollar and MACK, 2013 

Field Work has its origins in a project commission by French photographer Frederic Brenner. Invited along with ten other photographers, including Fazal Sheikh, Wendy Ewald, Stephen Shore, Gilles Peress, Jeff Wall and others, Kollar was asked to photograph the region. Although taken to various locations, Kollar was given great freedom to explore. As he travelled around, he found the country both foreign and remarkably familiar. Harassed at checkpoints and under constant surveillance, Kollar was reminded of his childhood growing up in communist Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia. From the omnipresent surveillance to the militarized landscape, the political and daily absurdities of his youth were drawn into relief when seen along those in Israel.  

 
All images © Martin Kollar and MACK, 2013  
 
All images © Martin Kollar and MACK, 2013 

Visiting locations like the Weizmann Institute of Science, military training sites and kibbutzim, Kollar captured images of strange otherworldly beauty that feel like behind-the-scenes stills from a strange B-movie. Bees swarm through the air and around their hives in one two image spread, a woman lies anxiously under a monstrous dental contraption, birds are measured and animals are pried open with stomach ports or worse. Despite the relentless security, even the animals aren’t safe. Poked, prodded and mangled, the animals have a sense of weary resignation that is mirrored in the portraits of Israeli citizens and soldiers who are seen sleeping, shuffling through the landscape or submitting to experiments. No one is safe and no violation is beyond the pale.

In some ways, it has become a bit of a cliché to speak about the "unknowable" political and cultural complexities of Israel. Unfortunately, this allows for an all too convenient retreat and refusal to take a position or probe more deeply. While an acknowledged subjective approach is always preferably to an assertively false one, the subjective also runs the danger of lapsing into solipsistic obtuseness in the face of the new and unknown. Rather than masking ignorance with claims of complexity, Kollar reveals something that feels both personal and true to his subject and avoids this pitfall. Through the sometimes jarring juxtapositions and decontextualized imagery, the work points to the ways in which the odd realities of a chaotic militarized zone are normalized and coexist with everyday life. Kollar’s odd and haunting images highlight the ways in which the absurd butts up against the beautiful, the horrific against the astonishing and the banal with the casually violent.  


All images © Martin Kollar and MACK, 2013